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The 19th - 22nd August was a weekend of firsts for me.

1. First time I've been to Stanstead.
It's like a big greenhouse. My bike bag had t-shirts and flyers loaded into it on top of my Trailstar and a set of Beau's Halos. In spite of my best efforts to lighten it, the bag weighed in at a whopping 57Kg and Norwegian Airlines were not amused. One trip to the nearby 'sports shop', £20 and a holdall (made by the swoosh™ people) later, I'm stood in the middle of check in emptying the bike bag of suspicious looking manilla envelopes (containing flyers) and what, to the untrained eye, would appear to be a very uninspired holiday wardrobe (50 black t-shirts with D3 plastered on them!). Somehow, I managed to fit an impressive 22Kg into this poor holdall and it was back to check in to beg for mercy. Mercy duly shown, it was off to oversized baggage where an alarming thought entered my head. All that you've just read happened in under 10 minutes and in the rush I hardly even took in the details of the bag I'd bought. Now, all I could remember was that it was blue, made by the swoosh™ people and weighed about 3 stone! Right there and then, looking around me, I began to fully appreciate Nike's global domination as wave after wave of the famous 'ticks' leapt out at me. Arse!

2. First time i've been worried on a plane.
I choose to fly the week when two budget airlines drop out of the sky in terrifying circumstances and I've watched the first three episodes of Lost. Nuff said.

3. First time I've been to Norway.
From the moment I walked out of the plane I couldn't get enough of the Norwegian air! It literally tastes so pure that you'd think it had been created in a lab and there's very little difference in quality between Olso and the open countryside. Stepping off of the plane, going through passport control, picking up my bags (yes, i recognised the holdall, it was the one that left a dent in the conveyor belt!), buying a train ticket and boarding the train took 22, yes 22 minutes! The train to Lillehammer took just over an hour and a half and cut through the most amazing countryside, the horizon peppered with temptingly steep 'hills' (mountains to us southerners!). Norway has a total poulation of 4.5 million people with Oslo's population a mere 500,000! You can imagine the reactions i got from locals when i told them the population of London!

4. First time I've met any Norwegian riders.
And what a top bunch of geezers they were too! Within half an hour of getting to Hafjell I was shovel in hand with these guys, digging and shaping with the Sun beating down on us. Yes, the Sun! Not a copy of The Sun but the burning beastie herself. For anyone who's never been to Norway I can confirm that not only is there Sun during Norwegian summertime but it's HOT! My back got so badly burnt on the Saturday that I was glowing in the dark!!

5. First time i've ever had a sausage in a Tortilla.
Norwegian food and eating habits are very different from ours. The main meal of the day for most Norwegians is breakfast which is quite a large affair. Then it's a snack for lunch (normally cold) and then a hot meal in the evening. I was also told that norwegians have quite sensitive taste buds and that to other nations Norwegian food can be a bit tasteless. This cannot be said of Kjell Tore's (President of the Hafjellfreeride Klubb, owner of the Number1 bar and excellent chef) amazing burgers, irresistible potato salad and sausages wrapped in tortillas which I survived on for the entire weekend! (apart from a pizza, the cornerstone of the modern Norwegian diet, which Beau and I consumed under maudlin circumstance in the early hours of Sunday morning. More about this later but i must have been hungry as the pizza had mushrooms on it and i still devoured slice after slice!).

6. First time I've seen the weather change like that!
Saturday, as mentioned before, was an absolute scorcher and the trails were harder and faster than a late 80's german porn film! The riders started dropping down from the mountain at about 6pm and because of a few technical hitches (only two of us permanently working on the jumps and setting up the evening and the band turning their nose up at the stage and equipment and refusing to play) there was an atmosphere of confusion at first and we've learnt for next time to better inform people of what's going on. However, we fired up the PA and started blasting out the Flying Vikings 'display cd' while rider Nils warmed up. Now it was starting to fall into place, crowd gathered round, beers in hand, dirty chugging metal blaring and Nils thowing his bike about....drip....drip..drip..drip.drip.drip.....kersplaaaash!!! The heavens completely opened drenching everyone and everything in sight in the kind of rain that hurts!! With nowhere for everyone to go and no back up plan on our part, the crowd quickly dispersed and only a handful of people, mostly the riders, remained. We were gutted to say the least. The Saturday evening was the proverbial tasting of the pudding we'd been organising for 6 weeks and the pudding was royally boned! Ole and Kristian kept the spirit alive by putting on an awesome trials display anyway, on some of the slickest surfaces i've seen so huge respect goes out to them, but the dirt jumping, MX and music were off. We drank, groaned, ate pizza and went to bed. Arse!

7. First time i've seen frozen pizza made in a sandwich toaster.
And I've made some disgusting things in my time too, but I woke on the Sunday morning to the smell of ham and pineapple and the sight of the toaster nearly made me bolt! Another early start, I did some more digging and Beau went to search for the illusive walkie-talkies. Radios in hand we headed up the mountain to get the DH race organised. By now we'd decided to make this race a bit of fun but, in spite of this, there were some seriously good times laid down and the track didn't seem to have suffered too much from the previous nights downpour. Actually, it hadn't really suffered at all!

8. First time I've ridden in Norway.
Yup, you read it right. It's about 2pm on the Sunday and Beau and I haven't even got out on the mountain since we got here! So we make our way back to the cabin and saddle up. Beau takes me down the DH run first but it almost immediately becomes apparent to me that I'm more knackered than I realised and within 30 seconds my forearms are locked up, I can't pull my brakes and I'm heading down this beautiful track like a bloody rag doll. While I'm making excuses, I'm dropping on my singlespeed trailstar which is making the descent (LOL) less than comfy. If you ever needed an excuse for 10" travel then this place should definitely be on your list. However, i'd seen a kid on a specialized hardtail with 100mm travel ripping it up the previous day. I rationalise that he hasn't done 2 days digging etc. etc. Nevertheless, I've travelled a long way so back up we go to do one of the freeride runs. Super tight with tech sections and some good old fashioned launches, I manage to rag doll this one too, throwing an 'over the bars' somersault into the mix. The ride back down to the cabin is sweet with a huge fireroad crisscrossed with what can only be described as trenches to hop over and by now i've loosened up. Heaven! The trails are absolutely awesome and the build quality is second to none.

9. First time I've stopped.
It's about 6pm on the Sunday and the riders are filtering down from the mountain. Jumps have been well watered and packed down and the wallride's secure. sponsors banners are all up and....wait. Where the hell does it say Nordic Shore or D3? Granted we've got guys riding in our tees but where's our nice big banner etc. Another lesson learnt for next time! A tin of spray paint and a couple of leftover tees later and we've upped our presence a bit and the fun begins. Weather's fantasic and Nils starts warming up. Time to sit back and watch. The riders gather and we're treated to the contents of the Flying Viking's trick bag, huge whips, supermans, seatgrabs and everything fully extended! Next up the dirt comp. By now lots of the riders have had to leave as they've got 5 hour + journeys ahead of them and school/work on monday morning. However, we've still got plenty of guys left who fancy getting their hands on those 661 prizes and the comp goes off with a really good level of riding. Not content with the comp, someone decides to push the MX takeoff ramp close to the 4m landing ramp and the next thing we know there's an awesome session going off with rider Bjørn winning the trick of the weekend for his fully extended nothing in the skies above the landing ramp!

Finished the day off in Number1 with some beers. A drunk guy with a paper cock through his head (yes, you read that right) wouldn't leave us alone 'cos we weren't dancing and when he discovered we were English things went from bad to worse. One of the Vikings pretended that he was English too and 'the cock' proceeded to say something to him in Norwegian. It must have been unpleasant as it caused the Viking to blow his cover and it nearly kicked off! A few beers and a bit of reflection later and we were ready for the off. 'Do you guys want a lift back to the resort?' asked the Vikings? Well yes we would but there's three of them and they've got a pickup truck with three seats and two crossers strapped in the back so where would we si.....two minutes later we're riding back to Hafjell on the back of these crossers, on the back of their pickup, pulling can cans, suicides etc and making ourselves look like a right pair of... you get the picture.

10. First time I've thought about going home.
Woke up on the Monday morning and packed the boundary ropes and safety mats away. Hafjell have decided they want to keep the jump park up until the end of the season so at least we didn't have to shift all 150 tons of that! I packed up my bike and said goodbye to the cool guys I'd met over the weekend. Then it was the Hafjell Totota Hi-Lux, train, plane, my dad's Pajero, my trusty Astra and home. I want to go again!
Massive thanks go out to all who made me so welcome, Kjell Tore, Brent & Vicky @ Woody's, the Grimstad Kru, the Flying Vikings, the countless riders I met and Beau for getting me roped into this in the first place. I'm hooked!

Tusen takk!!


RELATED! D3 weekender 09/05 - A steep learning curve by Beau Dommett.



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